Gray belts grand slam during eight-run fourth as La Plata downs Huntingtown
When Peyton Gray stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the fourth inning on Thursday afternoon, he had no plans to swing the bat unless he saw exactly what he wanted.
The La Plata sophomore got what he wanted.
With one swing of the bat, Gray smashed a grand slam over the right-field fence to effectively put away the visiting Huntingtown Hurricanes. The four runs increased La Plata’s lead to 9-1 in what ultimately ended an 11-1, six-inning Southern Maryland Athletic Conference nondivision victory for the Warriors.
“Brett [Pilkerton] was up at bat and they threw four straight balls to him,” Gray said, referencing the previous at-bat before his homer, which was the first of his high school career. “I was looking for one pitch, and if I got that one pitch, I was go- ing to tag it. I was lucky enough that they threw it and I just turned on it and was lucky enough to get some air underneath of it and it went over ... nothing better. It felt great.”
La Plata (5-1 overall after a 19-9 loss to Leonardtown on Monday) and Huntingtown (5-2 after a 4-1 win over North Point on Monday) were tied 1-1 with two outs in
the bottom of the fourth before the hosts’ bats caught fire.
With runners on first and second, Scott Logue singled to left to drive home Gray, who had walked to lead off the inning, with the goahead run. It was only the beginning.
Zach Fitzsimmons followed with a two-run double, which was followed by Quinn Krahling’s RBI single. Nick Steury then singled and Pilkerton walked to set the stage for Gray’s big fly.
“We had really good atbats that inning,” La Plata head coach John Childers said. “The home run was by a sophomore. It was pretty cool to watch that. We got the big hits with men on base and [Huntingtown] didn’t. If they had gotten the big hits early in the game when they loaded the bases a couple times, it might have been a completely different game. So we were a little lucky and a little good today.”
Indeed, Huntingtown had its opportunities early in the game. The Hurricanes had the bases loaded with one out in the second but failed to push a single run across. An inning later, Danny Goucher drew a one-out walk which turned into a run on Tyler Livingston’s RBI double the subsequent at-bat.
The Hurricanes went on to strand a runner at third, unable to capitalize further. In the top of the fourth, they left runners on second and third, again failing on the opportunity to jump ahead of the hosts. By the fifth, it no longer mattered.
Huntingtown left nine on base in the game, six of which were left in scoring position. The showing was similar to the Hurricanes’ 2-1, nine-inning loss to McDonough on March 29 when the team left eight on base with, again, six left in scoring position.
“Our pitchers need to do a better job and get guys out,” Huntingtown head coach Guy Smith said. “We had the same situations, had the bases loaded and couldn’t get anything done. They did, had eight straight hits. We just have to be better.”
The Hurricanes are scheduled to play St. Charles at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf at 4:30 p.m. today. After a disappointing week in which the Hurricanes’ sandwiched losses around a win over Lackey, Smith is looking for significant improvement from his squad.
“It needs to get tougher,” he said. “They need to get a little more competitive. We’re looking for nine guys to get better. We have some young guys we’re going to get trying and different guys will get opportunities. We’ll find out if we can rebound next week after this. Getting run-ruled is never fun.”
La Plata had taken the early 1-0 lead on Tyler Stockwell’s solo homer in the second inning. Starting pitcher Jake Hanks allowed just two hits but walked five to afford Huntingtown its scoring chances early in the game. But La Plata’s defense was relatively solid and Hanks was able to pitch out of the jams he found himself in.
“We started off a little shaky,” Hanks said. “We started a little uprising in the middle innings. We started to pick up the pace and hit the ball, started to get some rallies going. The team backed me up, saved me runs and kept me going through the game.”
While he thinks there is plenty of room left to improve, Childers was relatively pleased with what his team has shown through five games. The Warriors took a 6-5 decision from Northern the day prior to the win over Huntingtown, and had shown considerable resolve in doing so. La Plata has a home showdown with Charles County rival North Point at 4:30 p.m. today.
“We’re getting better. You can see our baseball IQ and our youth on the bases. We’re making a lot of mistakes still, but we have have some talented kids, and they fight,” Childers said. “We had a really ugly inning and gave them that run. They didn’t quit. They came right back. We did pretty much the same thing at Northern yesterday. If you have kids that fight through every at-bat through the entire game, you’re going to have a chance to win.”
La Plata’s Peyton Gray is congratulated by teammates after hitting his first high school home run, a grand slam, in the bottom of the fourth inning in the Warriors’ game with the visiting Huntingtown Hurricanes on Thursday afternoon. La Plata won 11-1 in six innings.
La Plata’s Tyler Stockwell is greeted by teammates after his solo homer in the second inning of the Warriors’ 11-1 win over the visiting Huntingtown Hurricanes on Thursday afternoon.
La Plata’s Jake Hanks pitched five innings, allowing just one run in the Warriors’ 11-1 win over the visiting Huntingtown Hurricanes on Thursday afternoon.